Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Buoys, tops and beacons


We are 5 billion spinning tops careening into each other around the world.

We all feel it, we all know it; the horizon is moving perceptibly and more quickly everyday. The oceans are wild. We point to the things indicating that it is: global economic meltdown, decline of American prominence in the world, rise "of the rest", a brand new Black president who is heralding in an era of hope for redemption and global recovery.

Deaths of loved ones, weddings of friends and holidays connect us in good and bad ways. Jobs lost, jobs started, the daily drop off at school and the car needing to be repaired remind of us stability and instability at all levels of our lives. The bounty of food on our table in winter, and the knowledge of our profound privilege just to eat is awakened by peering into eyes of our loved children.

Right now, at this time in this historic moment, our boat feels small; pummeled by the forces around us, afraid and powered only by our own will at the oars. We are impossibly charted to cross the sea-changes in a sea of small boats. All of us captains searching for lit beacons in the storm; looking for direction to a safe harbor. For a seamark buoy in the fog.

But revealed in the storm is the good work in the world to be done. Some are called to do it, some avoid it. Some are called simply to work, some by necessity, some by understanding the deep need of the world around them. Everyone knows that humanity is not perfect, yet some are compelled to make a difference. The work will never be done, but there are those who persevere.

Shortly now, after 7 months on-leave, Heather goes back to work. The good work she is compelled to do. But even in being compelled, being someone who works, and excels at making a difference, she faces fears.

The racing, the frantic paddling to keep ahead of the current. Not being able to do it all and do it all effortlessly perfect. Not being enough at any one thing. And now more than even that, the fear of leaving her baby and boys. The fear of loss, that some how she is abandoning them, the deep fear that she will miss out.

But as I sit across from her after dinner, and listen to her fears, I am unafraid. Unafraid for our family, for her or for our children.

I feel the rocking of our boat. I hear the storm howling outside and the fog closing in. I feel our sleeping children on the floors above us; we are spinning tops on the face of the earth.

Yet, at the quiet center there is the peaceful intimacy of our family. The imperfections, the confident love. The loss of innocence, the waking consciousness, the squeal of delight of a four-year-old making a 7-month old belly laugh. Macaroni and cheese after a long day, a warm bottle at 2 AM.

And in the intimacy of our family, there is the bittersweet realization that while things always, and inevitably change, our foundation is strong. And our connection, which we work so hard to nurture and maintain, is real. That while we will certainly miss things, and we will mourn what we miss, we are all richer when we grow with change then when we resist it.

That by embracing change, reveling in it, we are giving our children a tremendous gift; the gift of how to locate a buoy in the storm and how to get home.



Anonymous said...

I have no idea what the post is saying but the picture is just great.

Janet said...

Oh Braydon what a beautiful, insightful, meaningful post.

Anonymous said...


That is a truly profound and beautiful post. Heather's dilemma is such a familiar and poignant one. But an upside to being "compelled to make a difference" is that it does make you feel good while hopefully helping.


Anonymous said...

I have no idea how a woman with three small children has the inner strength to follow her calling and go back to work. It is an impossible challenge that most all will fail at accomplishing. Everything is set up to make her fail. And most women don't even attempt to try it. But I'm sure she will somehow do it. Because if anyone can she can. And as one of her former students, I must say, that although it is probably the toughest thing for her to do, it is worth it. She changes lives through her work. That is not an understatement. I know so many people who WOULD NOT BE who they are if it weren't for her. Thank you Prof J and don't give up.
from a LU student from 2002 (I have been secretly following your blog for awhile now!!! but have never commented before)

Elyssium Earth said...

You, sir, have the true gifts of clarity and dedication. Thankyou once again j-mc's for making that bit of difference to my day. A beacon, if you will.....

Hello! said...

I feel for you! Working with a kiddo (or three) at home is so hard!
My heart broke a little each day as I left for work last summer.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. It will all be fine. Your family is strong.

(It still stinks going back to work. Even if you love your job.)


Troy & Tara Livesay said...

This is hard stuff. I feel for you ... and care!

Malia'sMama said...

I had sooo many nightmare returning to work after 11 months off with MalĂ­a. Even after these 2 weeks Christmas break, I was afraid. Hang in, Heather!

This Mama said...

What a beautiful and eloquent post full of truth. Love it.

mayhem said...

Beautiful post, Braydon.

Best wishes to your whole family, and especially to you, Heather, as you head back to work.